Stars above Utah
The night time sky above Utah’s Arches Nationwide Park
(Wikimedia Commons public area)


So-called “darkish subject,” already somewhat mysterious, will have grow to be somewhat extra so:


“Darkish Subject Might Be Older Than The Large Bang, Find out about Suggests”


For a few of my very own musings with regards to darkish subject, right here’s a column that I printed within the Deseret Information again on 13 August 2015, underneath the identify of “Materialism isn’t what it was”:


A number of the notable characters in C.S. Lewis’ novel “That Hideous Power” — the concluding e book in his Perelandra trilogy — is the scientist Mr. MacPhee, a sturdy-minded and skeptical rationalist in line with the younger Lewis’ personal cherished tutor William Kirkpatrick. MacPhee’s highbrow descendants nonetheless flourish in atheistic and agnostic circles these days. However his easy, stout, common-sense materialism badly wishes primary revision.

Even though the Greek phrase “atom” approach “indivisible,” we’ve recognized for many years that atoms are in reality composed of protons, neutrons and electrons — and will also be break up. Additional, at the side of the remainder of the universe, they’re being divided into even smaller “subatomic debris” bearing such names as “lepton,” “neutrino,” “gluon,” “muon,” “boson,” “hadron,” “baryon” and “meson.” Debris known as “quarks” are available six “flavors”: “up,” “down,” “backside,” “best,” “extraordinary” and “appeal.” Many debris have mass. However photons and gluons don’t.

Additionally, we now know subject to not be forged, however most commonly empty house (although “empty house,” too, is also problematic). If, for example, the nucleus of a hydrogen atom had been expanded to basketball-size and positioned on the middle of the Earth, its unmarried orbiting electron can be someplace out in Earth’s setting.

Additional, previous fashions lengthy acquainted from faculty textbooks and study rooms are deceptive: Atoms aren’t made up of submicroscopic items such as billiard balls. Electrons don’t orbit their nuclei as planets revolve round our solar. Like photons, electrons appear to be each debris and waves. And, consistent with Werner Heisenberg’s well-known “Uncertainty Concept,” to the level that the location of an fundamental particle is understood, its momentum can’t be recognized — and vice versa.

Such issues are obscure, let on my own to image. However one conclusion turns out glaring: “The universe is not just queerer than we assume,” the clinical polymath J.B.S. Haldane famously remarked, “it’s queerer than we will assume.”

We’re from time to time urged to consider best what we see. However how many people have in reality observed an electron? And the way commonsensical is the perception, from Albert Einstein’s Common Idea of Relativity, that house itself (or, most likely extra exactly, “spacetime”) is “curved”? How a lot room does Einstein’s Particular Idea of Relativity depart for our sense of subject matter issues when it says that mass and effort are identical? And what of the present cosmological figuring out that subject — and, certainly, the universe itself — will have arisen from “quantum fluctuations” in a vacuum?

Believe, too, the brand new global mentioned in Richard Panek’s 2011 e book “The Four P.c Universe: Darkish Subject, Darkish Power and the Race to Uncover the Remainder of Truth”: Most effective 4.56 % of our universe, which turns out to have originated in an not possible explosion kind of 13.75 billion years in the past, is “baryonic subject.” That’s the subject that we all know, the subject that we will continuously see and from time to time contact, the stuff of which stars, planets, mountains, pine timber, Porsches, constructions and kittens are made. The remainder of the universe, we’ve best just lately found out, is “darkish subject” (22.7 %) and “darkish power” (72.eight %) — figures that, Panek writes, be offering “an exquisitely exact accounting of the intensity of our lack of know-how.” “Darkish subject” and “darkish power” can’t be observed however best not directly detected, and we don’t actually know what they’re.

None of this proves that God exists, clearly, but it surely undoubtedly encourages humility. And it provides another tantalizing probabilities, too:

One will have to, in fact, by no means tie one’s theology too carefully to present clinical theories, as a result of they alter. However would possibly Mormonism’s notions of “natural” and “delicate” subject — what Catholic thinker Stephen Webb phrases Mormonism’s “Christian materialism” — have one thing theologically and philosophically essential to mention on this new scenario?

“May just or not it’s,” he asks, “that (Joseph) Smith … foresaw a center flooring between Plato’s immaterialism and the secular, atheistic ideology of materialism?”

“Via arguing that best the bodily is actual,” he writes, “and that the divine is bodily in ways in which we will best glimpse on this global, Mormon metaphysics in reality has some benefits over extra conventional metaphysical schemes that emphasize the immateriality of the divine. Most importantly, Mormonism can cope with without delay and sympathetically the query of materialism that lies on the center of recent atheism. … The case will also be made that probably the most critical selection to fundamentalism and Catholicism in the case of having the assets to show again the tide of modernity is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

For his argument, see Webb’s “Mormon Christianity: What Different Christians Can Be informed from the Latter-day Saints” (Oxford, 2013).


Posted from St. George, Utah



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